‘An artist can do useless and foolish things. As time advances, an artist can, on the contrary, genuinely approach wisdom.

Born 1965, Inner Mongolia, lives and works in Beijing

Xiao Yu graduated from the Mural Painting Department of Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1989, later teaching there until 1998 when he resigned to become a full-time artist. The 1990s was a time of dramatic change for Chinese artists; they were discovering global contemporary art, at first through books and foreign art magazines and later through international travel. Xiao Yu gained a reputation as one of China’s leading conceptual artists, at times causing controversy with works combining human and animal body parts. More recently, in a return to pure aesthetics and with a revived interest in Buddhism, Xiao works with bamboo. Imagery of bamboo is so prevalent in east Asian art that audiences are familiar with it and bring their own memories and experiences to their encounter with his artworks. At the same time, he is stripping it of its literary associations and creating something entirely new.  Xiao Yu loved bamboo’s suppleness and beauty, as well as its historical associations with ink painting and calligraphy, creating sculptural forms by twisting bamboo to the point at which it shredded or snapped. His twisted, broken bamboo forms, cast in bronze, warn us that there is a point at which the natural world can no longer recover from the impact of humanity


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